No. 2 Stanford Sweeps Beavers To Complete Regular-Season Play

11/28/2008

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CORVALLIS, Ore. - The Stanford women's volleyball team put an exclamation point on another impressive Pac-10 season tonight, sweeping Oregon State at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, 28-26, 25-18, 25-19.

The Cardinal finishes the regular season with a 26-3 overall record and a 17-1 mark in Pac-10 play. The team's one-loss conference season marked the first time since 2001 that it has finished with one conference loss or less (and the 10th time in school history). The squad, which clinched its third consecutive conference title on Wednesday, has earned the Pac-10's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship and will begin postseason play next week.

Middle blockers Janet Okogbaa and Foluke Akinradewo led the Cardinal attack, combining for 19 kills and six blocks while both hitting well above .500. Akinradewo had 11 kills on 19 swings (.579) while Okogbaa had eight kills on 12 tries (.583).

Senior outside hitter Cynthia Barboza paced Stanford with 14 kills, her 12th consecutive match in double figures. Fellow outside hitter Alix Klineman added 12 kills on the night.

Cardinal libero Gabi Ailes continued an exceptional string of defensive performances with 24 digs. The tally marked her career high for a three-set match and her third 20-dig performance in the last four matches. The sophomore leapt into seventh place on the school's single-season dig chart and hit the 400-dig landmark for the second straight year (417). With a 4.26 dig-per-set season average, Ailes is now matching the school-record pace she accomplished last year.

Sophomore setter Cassidy Lichtman racked up 32 assists in the win, and was second on the squad with nine digs.   

Stanford outhit the Beavers .306 to .148, coming in above .300 for the 21st time this year. The Beavers were led by junior outside hitter Rachel Rourke's 18 kills and senior libero Ashley Evans' 20 digs.

The sweep was Stanford's 19th of the year and 12th in Pac-10 play.

Oregon State ends its season in ninth place in the Pac-10 with a 14-17 record and a 3-15 mark in the Pac-10.

Stanford got off to a slow start in the first set, giving up an early 8-1 run to hand Oregon State a 9-3 lead. Okogbaa picked up two kills out of Stanford's first timeout and cut the lead to 9-6, but the Beavers capitalized on Stanford hitting errors to work their lead back to 16-9. At 19-12, Stanford finally had had enough and, led by Okogbaa and Klineman, began a fierce 9-1 comeback to grab the lead at 21-20. Oregon State's Jill Sawatzky pounded a kill to put OSU up again 22-21, but Okogbaa and Barboza rattled off consecutive kills to swing things back in Stanford's favor, 23-22. The Cardinal earned its first set point on an Erin Waller kill at 24-23, but Oregon State wouldn't let up. The Cardinal used its middles to take set point after set point, but Oregon State was able to fight off three straight Cardinal chances. Okogbaa ripped her sixth kill of the set at 27-26, then paired with Waller for the winning block, 28-26. The junior, whose .583 hitting percentage matched a career high, had six kills on seven swings in the first set. Akinradewo also had six kills in the first set and Stanford outhit OSU .340 to .250. Ailes recorded 13 digs in the opening set alone.

In the second set, neither team was able to rally out of the gates, but Stanford managed to slowly climb ahead. The Cardinal took at two-point lead on a Klineman kill at 4-2, then a three-point lead on a Barboza kill from the back row at 8-5. Finally, a block by Okogbaa and Waller at 10-7 gave Stanford some momentum, opening up a damaging 7-2 run to give Stanford a 16-9 lead. The Cardinal worked up to its largest advantage on a Barboza kill at 21-13 and Oregon State could come no closer than five thereafter. A Beaver miscue gave Stanford set point at 24-18 and Akinradewo tipped a ball into the middle for the winner, 25-17. Led by Barboza's five kills, Stanford outhit Oregon State .500 to .194.

Stanford once again had to overcome an early deficit in the third set, as Oregon State quickly went ahead 7-4. At 9-6, however, the Cardinal quickly took charge, battering the Beavers with an 8-0 run that made it 14-9. Stanford maintained its lead, and after a Bree Knitter kill at 19-15, took three points in a row to go up 22-15. The Beavers fought, but Klineman's 12th kill finally gave the Cardinal set point at 24-19. A Beaver swing went wide, and the Cardinal finished the set, 25-19. Barboza added five more kills to her tally in the final set. The Cardinal hit a match-low .125 in the final set, but still topped the Beavers' .000 percentage.

Stanford now awaits its seeding for the 2008 NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship, which begins next Friday, Dec. 5. The 64-team field will be announced live at 7 p.m. (PT) Sunday night on ESPNU.

Article courtesy of Stanford athletics.

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